This past spring we had 10 high school students from Nakatsu, a city on the northern boarder of Oita Prefecture in Kyushu, Japan, participate in a 2-week school immersion program in New Hampshire. After a long plane ride they landed in Boston, were bused to New Hampshire, introduced to their host families and sent straight home for a healthy dinner and a good nights sleep.
The next morning they awoke excited and refreshed. Taken to school by car or bus, they were then greeted by GPI US staff and their ESL teacher. Each morning they participated in ESL class, which included a variety of lessons, themes, games, and activities. That afternoon they were introduced to their “buddies.” Instant friendships were made over lunch. The Nakatsu students stayed with their buddies for the remainder of the day and attended all of their classes. When the school bell rang, the students were picked up to participate in whatever evening activities were planned – drama practice, grocery shopping, or even washing the dog!
While New Hampshire is beautiful, and learning the ins-and-outs of an American high school is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, GPI US did organize some time for the students to experience city life. The students took 2 day-trips to Boston, touring MIT and Harvard campuses, visiting Fenway Park, and shopping. And of course eating as much local New England lobster and clam chowder as they could!
On their last day of school, the Nakatsu students shared their Japanese culture with both the American high school students and their host families by giving a presentation, sharing calligraphy, and putting on a traditional tea ceremony.
Goodbyes were bitter sweet, but lasting friendships were made, confidence was gained, English skills were honed, and a glimpse into another culture and lifestyle was discovered.